Geartalk: Streeting with the Olympus OM-D EM-5

I enjoy taking photos on the street. Candid, unassuming photographs of people i see on the street. Sometimes, i stalk these people for a little while, if i find them particularly interesting. Follow them around for a bit, hoping to catch them in that “decisive moment” when interesting transforms into art. It doesn’t always happen, but that’s part of the fun. 

The camera you choose to take with you to the street does have a direct impact on the ease or difficulty in how all of this is achieved. Generally, larger is worse, smaller is better. A large camera (say, a full frame DSLR) attracts a lot of attention due to it’s obvious size — point the camera at someone and odds on you’ll be noticed; being noticed will almost certainly affect the behaviour of the subject. A smaller camera reduces the risk of being noticed, and also often provides additional mobility to take photos from unconventional angles. Plus the fact that streeting = walking, and walking around with 5-10kgs of gear gets tiring very quickly. Smaller = lighter.

How does the OM-D fare as a street camera? Very well. We’ve already covered how well it handles in High ISO/low-light scenarios. A lot of street shots, those in the evenings, can be done in very low-light settings. How about the 5-axis image stabilization? It works great here. While streeting, you’re moving a lot, your subject is probably moving as well and chances of motion blur can sometimes be high. This is mitigated somewhat by the built-in IS. 

The other deal maker is the AF speed. In 2 of the 5 photos below, i only had a split second to get the shot. I didn’t even have time to bring the camera up to my eye for the EVF, or to review the composition in the LCD. I just pointed and snapped. The AF locked on in 200-300ms, achieved critical focus and the shutter fired. Any slower and i’m certain the shot would have been lost; the subject turned away and the connection with the camera was lost. 

And finally, the tilt-screen. In 3 of the 5 photos below, the photos were taken by swiveling the screen upwards 90 degrees and looking directly downward into the camera to get the photo, almost like how you would should with a top-down viewing medium format camera. Being able to see the subject without even looking into his direction is what this feature allows you to do; and it works great in reducing the chances you’ll be noticed, thus adding to the level of candidness in the shot.

The following photos we taken with a mix of lenses: Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5. Click on them for the larger version.

Angel in white

Street angel

Always open

Always open. The cobbler that never sleeps.

Thank you, come again

Thank you, come again. Down the hatch.

Leaning to exist

Leaning to exhale.

A chance meeting

And boy meets man.